UNDONE x SIMPLE UNION Watches

After a series of sold-out releases, Hong Kong-based microbrand UNDONE has collaborated once again with the design group Simple Union on two new watches, and the results are stunning. The MŪ3 Sometsuke and Urushi models are based around the UNDONE Terra case, a 37mm stainless version that they call a ‘tortoise’ shape (you can think of it as a modified square cushion), but the similarities end there. The result is two very different, but equally striking new watch designs.

The first variant (limited to just 300 examples) is the Sometsuke, which features a polished white enamel dial and blue markers, evoking the look of porcelain, complete with a ‘crack’ that reveals the gold-finished Japanese TMI NH71 skeletonized automatic movement. The effect is stunning, inspired by Kintsugi, the ancient art of repairing broken ceramic with a blend of lacquer and gold. Simple Union’s collaborations have always been a celebration of the Wabi Sabi aesthetic, which highlights the beauty in imperfection. 

Far East Inspiration

The markers are another version of the UNDONE/Simple Union Kyoto dial, which replaces the Roman numerals of a Panerai ‘California’ dial with Japanese Kanji characters on the upper half, along with Arabic numbers on the lower.  That, along with the squared cushion case combines to create a sort of remixed Eastern Panerai vibe…a ‘Japanerai’, if you will. The vibrant blue of the markings against the white of the dial reinforces the antique porcelain look, and the overall effect is quite singular. All of this visual overload is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. 

As if that weren’t enough, the indigo-dyed straps deserve special mention: each one is unique, crafted from stenciled Katazome cloth that’s more than 150 years old. Additionally, the skeletonized movement is visible through the clear crystal caseback that features the Simple Union fan logo. Trust us when we say you’ll likely be the only kid on the block with one on your wrist.

Now on to the more understated, yet no less beautiful Urushi model, which pays tribute to the traditional lacquer technique of sprinkling gold or silver onto the inky black surface. You can read more about the history of Urushi on the UNDONE site: we won’t spoil the story, but it involves Japanese monks drinking tea mixed with the poisonous resin of the Urushi tree in a quest for immortality. 

Quality Features Throughout

This time around, the Kyoto dial has gold markings and a matching handset, which really jump out against the black and gold-flecked background. A simple brown leather two-stitch strap ties the entire look together, keeping things relaxed, yet elegant. All other specs remain the same as the Sometsuke model, apart from the Seiko NH35A automatic movement. Taken as a whole, the Urushi is one of the most stunning yet under-the-radar releases in recent memory. 

If you’re looking for a new timepiece that can glide effortlessly from the office to a night out, then the latest collaboration between UNDONE and Simple Union is a uniquely compelling option, and deserves your serious consideration.

D.C. Hannay is a writer, commercial producer, voiceover artist, and musician from New York, writing professionally for over 20 years. He’s been fascinated with watches his whole life, beginning with his father’s 1970 Breitling Navitimer, and will always have a soft spot for anything Casio.